As you plan to get your binoculars for a safari in Africa, let us get to know them better.
The ability to be part of the chase as a cheetah hunts a gazelle, as a pride of lions takes down a buffalo with military precision, and as a falcon feeds its chicks, having a Safari in Africa is a never to forget experience all thanks to binoculars.
Binoculars use the science of optics to take you right up to the action, without putting you in any danger, or discomfort and they sure are part of what you should pack for a safari to Africa.
How Do Binoculars Operate?
Binoculars work on the principle of light refraction, and how prisms/lenses use this property of light.
(if you already know what binoculars are, please just skip to the next heading, thanks)
When light passes through different media such as air, glass, or water, it either bends inwards or outwards depending on the density of the medium. This property of light is called refraction.
A lens is a piece of curved glass, through which light is either transmitted or refracted.
There are two types of lenses, concave and convex.
- A convex lens is thicker in the middle and thinner towards the sides, helping light refract and focus inwards. The objective lens of the binoculars is a convex lens.
- A concave lens on the other hand is thinner in the middle and thicker towards the sides. The light refracts outwards forming larger images of smaller objects, behaving like a magnifying glass. The eyepiece of the binoculars is made of a concave lens.
The objective lens and the eyepiece are just two parts of a big setup.
When light from a faraway object passes through the objective lens, it produces an upside-down image as a result of the light crossing.
The eyepiece lens also won’t be able to solve the issue, which is where prisms come into play.
A prism is a 3-D piece of glass, which rotates and reflects the image. In binoculars, prisms rotate and invert the image by 1800 to obtain an upright image.
There are two sets of prisms in each binocular tube and there are two types of prism arrangements, namely roof prisms, and Porro prisms.
- In Porro prisms, the two prisms are arranged side by side at 90o which results in a bulky binocular structure.
- In roof prisms, the prisms are arranged in a straight line along the line of light propagation.
Piecing all the information above, we can conclude that rays pass through the objective lens to form a magnified inverted image of the distant object.
The arrangement of the prisms rotates the image by 180o and the eyepiece, in turn, produces a magnified image of the initial image.
This happens to both the right and left tubes of the binoculars.
To be a little bit clearer, please check out this video on what binoculars are, and make it a bit easier on yourself haha! (I got a bit carried away there)
Different Types of Binoculars
There are different types of binoculars and I will try to explain this here:
- Mini Binoculars/field glasses
They are portable and fit into your rucksack quite easily, they may not be as powerful as the full-sized binoculars but they serve their purpose quite well.
- Zoom Binoculars
These binoculars specialize in changing the level of magnification of the lenses according to your needs.
- Wide Angle Binoculars
These binoculars have a wider field of view than normal binoculars, enabling coverage of more range. These binoculars are ideal for wildlife and game spotting!
- High-Powered Binoculars
These are used as an alternative to telescopes by astronomers, due to their high level of magnification.
How To Choose Binoculars?
When choosing binoculars here are a few things prospective buyers and adventures need to note
- When buying binoculars, you should have a use in mind for them.
They shouldn’t be too expensive that you’re afraid to take them anywhere, or maybe so heavy, and cumbersome you‘d rather leave them behind.
Binoculars are meant to be used and not sit on a shelf somewhere idle.
- If you want something light, and small enough to fit in your pocket, that you can take out in a pinch and see that elephant while on a safari in the wild, then a pair of inexpensive and small pair of field glasses will work.
- If you intend to carry out some serious bird watching or astronomy with the binoculars used in a static location or a hideout then you should invest in some heavy, better quality, and expensive pair of binoculars.
- For those planning to have their binoculars glued to their eyes for long periods of time, then good-quality lenses are a worthy investment. Don’t damage your eyes.
- More magnification doesn’t always mean better binoculars. The more the lens magnification the more the effect of your hand movements will be magnified.
Also, higher magnification binoculars show you less of the scene at a go; a smaller field of view.
- If you plan to use your binoculars in the rain, you’ll need weather-proof and fog-proof binoculars that are filled with anti-fogging argon or nitrogen gas, and fitted with rubber grips and good rubber eyecups to ensure a tight seal around your eyes.
- A good pair of small, and light field glasses are always a good option to have, and they always ensure you never miss the action.
Do you really need binoculars for your safari you might ask yourself?
You definitely need a pair of binoculars for your safari. Some animals will get up close and personal with the safari vehicles, but many more prefer to keep their distance.
A good example is big cats like leopards which like to hide in the bushes and on trees.
And even if the animals are close, the binoculars ensure you get great detail of the animals.
To Help You Get Started, below is a list of the 10 best safari binoculars.
These binoculars will get reviewed in detail later in my blog!
- Nikon Monarch M5 10×42
- Bushnell H20 Waterproof Binoculars (top price/quality)
- Steiner Safari UltraSharp Safari Binoculars 10×26 (compact)
- Steiner Predator Series 10×42
- Gosky EagleView 10×42 ED Binoculars( Great clarity )
- Celestron 71347 Outland X (Budget-friendly binoculars)
- Nikon ProStaff 3S Binoculars
- Burris Droptine Binoculars
- Swarovski Optik EL 10×42 ( Top of the line)
- Bry & BVL Binoculars ( Fun safari binoculars for kids)
What is the difference between 8×42 and 10×42 binoculars?
Binoculars are described by two numbers separated by an x.
For example 8×42:
– The first number is the magnification, and the second number is the size of the objective lens in millimeters.
– The bigger the second number, the larger the objective lens, and the more light enters, thus the brighter the object will appear.
– However, the bigger the second number, the bigger the lenses and the heavier the binoculars will be.
What strength of binoculars do you need for your safari?
- Most people on safari will stick to a magnification of 7 or 8 as it gives a wide field of view and reacts less to the shaky motion of the hands.
- For people who are avid bird watchers, a bigger magnification of 10 or 12 will do.
For those who want to see really far, and the other binoculars above just don’t cut it, then below are some more options for you.
- Nikon Aculon A211 16×50
- Celestron 7107 Skymaster 25×100 ( Luxury choice)
- Celestron UpClose G2 10-30×50
- Ronhan High Power 20×50
- Adasion 12×42
- USCAMEL 10×50 Marine
(all of these will be reviewed in future blog posts, so please bookmark my website, thank you!)
My Final Conclusion.
I hope that you are now well informed on the topic of binoculars for a safari 🙂
If you have any more questions, please feel free to ask them below or join me on one of my social media channels below or Facebook group for more pictures of my travels to Africa!
I wish you happy travels!